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The Lit Hub: Five Books Making the News This Week

Date: Sep 15 2015

The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante

#FerranteFever continues, with most critics focused on detailing the allure and accomplishments of the beloved Neapolitan novels.

Laurie Muchnick (Kirkus Revews) waited to read all four books in the Neapolitan quartet before making her judgment: “Elena spends years trying to speak up in intellectual discussions among men, until she finally realizes she has something to say that they know nothing about—women’s issues, women’s lives—and discovers her own voice. In this brilliant, angry, honest series, Ferrante has found her voice and made it heard around the world.”

The conclusion of The Story of the Lost Child “masterfully returns to the opening moments of the first novel,” notes Maureen Corrigan (NPR) “’She moves you … , and she ruins you,’ says Elena in this novel about Lila. That’s also not a bad way to describe Ferrante’s power: ‘She moves you … , and she ruins you.’ Brava, Elena Ferrante whoever you are.”

Ferrante’s accomplishment in these novels, writes Judith Shulevitz (The Atlantic) “is to extract an enduring masterpiece from dissolving margins, from the commingling of self and other, creator and created, new and old, real and whatever the opposite of real may be. Hers is an old wives’ tale in the strongest sense of that term, a rich and haunted folk saga too rooted in lives effaced and genius squandered to be attributable solely to one Elena, or even two Elenas.”

Shulevitz reminds us of Dayna Tortorici’s n+ 1 essay, which traces Ferrante’s lineage, and suggests “the name Elena Ferrante is not a credit but an homage, to Elsa Morante, to the feminist collectives, to the literary tradition before her, to her mothers.”